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United adds 10 A350s, switches -1000s to smaller model

United Airlines has converted orders for 35 A350-1000 aircraft to the smaller A350-900 and added 10 of the latter model to the overall order.

The conversion of the eight-year-old order follows a lengthy review of the acquisition that was first disclosed by United officials in January.

“It was clear that the A350 aligns with our replacement needs and our network,” says United chief financial officer Andrew Levy. “The combination of the range performance and efficiencies make the A350 an attractive aircraft for United.”

The Star Alliance carrier's switch expands the backlog for the popular A350-900 to as many as 675, according to Airbus orders data dated 31 July. The backlog for the A350-1000 would contract to 177, the same database shows. Airbus also keeps eight orders for the discontinued A350-800 in the overall backlog for the A350 family.

Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy describes the order modification as a “strong reaffirmation” of the A350.

Although switching to a smaller model, the addition of 10 A350-900s significantly increases United’s overall capacity.

In typical seating layouts, Airbus lists the A350-1000 with 366 seats and the A350-900 with 325 seats. An order for 35 A350-1000s represents 12,810 overall seats in Airbus’ typical configuration, but 45 A350-900 amounts to 14,625, or 14% more capacity overall.

All A350s are powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB turbofan engine. The deal includes R-R’s long-term TotalCare service package for the engines, the engine manufacturer says.

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